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How to Claim Hurricane Disaster Unemployment Assistance?

Author : Steven De Nazareth

Updated : June 12th, 2019

If you are a victim of the storm, then you should avail for Disaster Unemployment Assistance to help you through this troubled time. Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) aims at assisting individuals with unemployment benefits that have lost their jobs or are no longer working due to a major disaster in an area where a disaster assistance period is declared. This is available to those that have applied but are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits.

How to claim Hurricane disaster Unemployment assistance
You are eligible for DUA if any one of the following has occurred to you because of the disaster:

  • The previous job contributed to more than 50% of your total income.
  • Stay, work and travel in the disaster area.
  • Your office, place of employment is damaged or closed.
  • Scheduled to start work which does not exist or no longer reach due to the storm.
  • Self-employment or work cannot be a sustainable source of income
  • Fall short of qualifying for unemployment benefits from any state
  • Cannot work due to injury caused by the disaster
  • You are the breadwinner of the household because of the death of the head of the household.

Additional eligibility requirements for DUA include:

  • Be unemployed as a direct result of the disaster
  • Be legally authorized to work in the United States
  • Be able to work and available for work
  • Actively search for work, unless ill or injured due to the disaster
  • Submit DUA payment requests on time
  • Have not refused an offer or referral to suitable work

DUA is available for people during the Disaster Assistance period which starts on the first Sunday from when the major disaster has been declared. Usually, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the DUA regulations define when the period starts and finishes. Seasonal workers are eligible for DUA if they would have been employed when the disaster had occurred.

How Do You Apply for DUA?

There are two options that eligible candidates can use to get the benefits of DUA. They can apply online at the Unemployment Benefit Services by clicking on the ‘Apply for Benefits’ option. They can also call the Tele-Center at 800-939-6631 to speak to a customer service representative. Those from Louisiana can call 225-925-7500. Those that are eligible will receive information on their weekly benefit amount, how to ask for payments and receive a copy of the Unemployment Benefits Handbook. In order to ensure that you can claim your benefits, you should complete your work search registration within 3 days of your application for the DUA. This is unless you have an intention to restart your business and if you are otherwise self-employed and looking to reopen your business. The proof of your employment which was disrupted by the disaster must be submitted within 21 days of the application. Work searches may be exempt in the disaster-hit regions in case it takes more than 12 weeks to restart the operations. Finally, you should request payment of DUA with the Payment Request sent to you and ensure that your mailing address is correct to receive your benefits.

DUA Weekly Benefit Amount

The minimum DUA weekly benefit amount is at least 50% of the state average WBA (Weekly Benefit Amount). For example, if you receive a WBA of $315, you should then be eligible for a DUA of $157. Minimum weekly benefits are used if you do not have any base period wages or enough wages to receive a minimum required benefit amount.

DUA payments may reduce if you receive any of the following:

  • Benefit amount reductions would be based on working part-time and your WBA will be reduced in proportion to the number of hours worked.
  • Benefits or insurance received for loss of wages due to illness or disability
  • Supplemental unemployment benefits that are paid pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement
  • If you receive private income protection insurance
  • Workers’ Compensation or Survivors Benefits if you become the major support of the family as a result of the death of the head of the household because of the disaster
  • If you receive retirement pension or annuity
  • On earnings from employment or self-employment
  • Receive subsidy or price support payments, crop insurance payments and farm disaster relief (Non-DUA) payments
  • Avail a court order to pay child support

 

All 39 Texas counties that are within the presidential disaster declaration have to apply until October 31. If you file after the deadline then it may be denied unless there is a good cause. All applicants should submit their Social Security Number, check stubs and documentation to support the claim that they are working or self-employed.

How Much DUA Benefits Payments?

How to claim Hurricane disaster Unemployment assistance money

If you reside in these states then you can avail DUA Benefits for 26 weeks. Individual benefits cannot extend beyond the disaster period which is 6 months. If you are in these states then you can receive the following:

 

States DUA Benefits
Texas $203 Minimum Weekly DUA Benefit/$493 Maximum Benefit
Florida $120 Minimum Weekly DUA Benefit/$275 Maximum Benefit
Georgia $142 Minimum Weekly DUA Benefit/$330 Maximum Benefit
Puerto Rico $59 Minimum Weekly DUA Benefit/$133 Maximum Benefit
U.S. Virgin Islands $167 Minimum Weekly DUA Benefit/$480 Maximum Benefit

Deadlines for DUA Application

To enroll in DUA, victims of the disaster should apply within 30 days after the availability is announced. Other applications would only be accepted for a “good cause” and in no case can the DUA application be received after the disaster period ends. You are required to provide supporting documents of your employment and earnings with your Social Security Number. If you are self-employed, you should provide your tax return copies. If you are employed, documents that provide proof of employment should be furnished. You should also provide a sworn statement which includes verification forms. By failing to do so, it would result in benefit overpayment which would be collected by the state. Each state will process the DUA differently. Most states may do so via internet and telephone. But if you are affected by Hurricane Irma, you should check periodically on the state websites. Open these websites if you have applied at Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands unemployment insurance agency websites listed below.

Additional Eligibility Conditions

Do state unemployment benefits apply to agricultural workers?

Farmworkers are eligible for benefits from the state. In Florida, those agricultural employers with more than 5 employees over a 20 week period or paid $10,000 in wages in a calendar quarter must cover these workers. In Texas, workers are covered if they employ at least 3 employees for 20 weeks or paid at least $6250 in wages during the calendar quarter. If a farmer fails to qualify then they should submit their application for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA).

Do immigrant workers get state unemployment benefits and DUA?

Workers that provide work authorization when they are working or when they collect benefits can qualify for unemployment benefits and DUA. Those that are not US citizens should provide the necessary documentation that supports their immigration status and the State UI agency should verify the same. Their status is usually verified through a process called Systematic Alien Verification For Entitlement Program by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

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  1. I applied for unemployment on 8-1 and was approved. I received my letter of eligibility and debit card about a week ago. I did not file my intitial bi weekly claim because I missed the deadline by 1 day (didn’t realize they would be closed on Saturday). When I logged on it said I would have to reopen a claim because mine had been closed. I filled out the online form to deactivate the claim. My question is this: will I have another waiting week? And will unemployment have to contact my employer all over again to verify my wages and go through the entire process all over again or will they just reopen the claim with a new date window to file?

  2. Lost my job in 10/2018 due to plant closure, collected vacation and severance pay. Opened a claim in 1/2019. Got an on the job training job through career link in 5/2019 worked one week and became very sick and was off for two weeks VA could not find anything wrong but gave me medication for the symptoms and an excuse to return to work, prior to returning got a call from my recruiter at career link telling me the position was filled so i did not return. Reopened my claim, a few weeks later got a letter informing me the employer had appealed and said i did not return, had a hearing and the employer did not show but i lost and got a 2500.00 over payment. Got a temp job through an agency but have only worked 4 days in two weeks. Reopened my claim and was told i need to earn 2604.00 from current employer before it can be opened, did i do something wrong? Still applying for work but am days away from losing everything, need income to pay bills. PLEASE HELP

    1. Rodney,

      Your eligibility to claim UI benefits depends on multiple factors including monetary eligibility. If you’ve been officially told about the shortage of earnings, there’s nothing much one can do. If you’re still confident of winning the appeal, please make a strong case.

      1. I live in KY but my base wages were from earnings in GA when I lived there. I’ve exhausted my benefits in KY. Am I able to now file through GA since my earnings through 10/18 came from there?

        1. Dee,

          As much as I am aware, Unemployment Insurance is a one time cycle. Please call the Unemployment Office in GA for more.

  3. The hours at work have been cut due to lack of business for every department.
    So all full-time positions are now part-time.
    How do I file for partial unemployment?
    The only options I see (in Texas) are for full unemployment.

    1. Eric,

      You should be able to claim partial UI benefits. Please consider applying online until full hours are restored.

    1. William,

      If everything goes well, it should not take more than 7-10 business days (waiting week). Please call the Claims Center for more.

  4. I was employed by a VA company for 5 years, my contract ended yesterday (07/31/19), however, I worked remotely for those 5 years and live in FL, which state do I apply to for my unemployment benefits?

    1. Oscar,

      Please check with your employer if they remitted UI taxes into the system. Contract workers are generally not eligible.

        1. Oscar,

          In that case, please go ahead and apply if your employer remitted UI taxes into the system.

    2. You apply in Virginia…however, I worked seasonally and they used a ‘quarter’ that was empty, so even though my employer paid in, I only got a 1/3 of what I should have received. Figured that out later :/ They will also question WHY you aren’t able and available to work IN Virginia. They froze my account for about a month.

  5. I worked 37 years with the same company in Texas. On July 2nd of 2018, I was let go due to workforce reduction. I signed up for benefits several months later and now have drawn my 26 weeks of benefit. Is there any program currently open in Texas or federally that will extend additional money while job seeking?

    1. Lonnie,

      The E.U.C(Emergency Unemployment Compensation) remains expired. There is no extension available. Please inquire further with the labor authorities in your state by calling them.

  6. I have been an employee of my company for 34 yrs. My position is being eliminated but I have been offered another position for less money. It is a much more physical job that I am not sure I can perform well. I am 75. If I try to fulfill the position and cannot do it, will I still be able to get benefits if I quit? They want me to try it for a couple of weeks to see if I am strong enough and if I can afford the cut in pay.

    1. Lynda,

      I suggest you call the Unemployment Office to find out about eligibility before making a decision on continuation.

      1. I recently lost my job..i was late for work and they took me off the schedule..never told me i was fired..didnt ask for uniforms back. Another cook was andd has been late for work and he didnt get taken off the schedule.can i still get unemployment?

        1. Kandie,

          Please note UI benefits are only offered to claimants who lose employment due to no fault of their own. You can call the Unemployment Office for clarification.

  7. Are there any training benefits or programs that will pay for an advanced degree, such as a PhD which is needed to become more employable?

    1. There are multiple training programs administered by the Labor Department in each state. For more info, please call visit the official website of the Unemployment Office.

  8. I’m about to exhaust my Unemployment benefits. I was laid off from my first job and
    found employment then I lost my job and became unemployed again. I applied for benefits and have have almost exhausted my benefits but have not found employment. Can I file for an extension?

    1. Deanna,

      The E.U.C(Emergency Unemployment Compensation) remains expired. There is no extension available. Please inquire further with the labor authorities in your state by calling them.

  9. After reading your article it’s still not clear to me about requirements surrounding moving to another state and completing/continuing to collect. I have 8 weeks eligibility left, I am moving from MA to FL. The end of your article says: “Since it’s all virtual (online), you may still consider the option of continuing your claims from the base state even if you move to a different one until completion. As a responsible claimant, it’s your duty to inform the base state about your movement to ensure there are no hassles in the near future.”

    So it sounds like even once I am in new state I am eligible to continue to collect from my base state. I can just continue to do my required weekly job search and reporting to and filing in my base state (I do it via phone call-in). No need to complicate things by doing some crazy state transfer of benefits. Benefits also done via direct bank deposit and no need to change anything. Do I even need to tell my base state I am now living in a new state? Why? Thank you.

    1. Paul,

      For the ease of understanding, each state has its specific rules and laws with regard to administering Unemployment Benefits. It might be an obligation for a claimant to inform about the movement. For clarification, please call the Unemployment Office and speak to a representative.

  10. I was recently fired from my work 25-June-2019/due to me not meeting their “standards/ expectations” i submitted my UE claim on 28-June and have not received any pay as of today, 19-July. The status is currently “adjudication in progress,” my question is, should i be worried this will be denied? I read the FAQ on the UE webpage and it said only a couple applications require the adjudication process. How long does this process usually take to get the final answer of whether I’m denied or approved? The website stated it susuallt takes ~25 days for the adjudication process, does this mean once that’s done then i still have to wait another 2-6 weeks for final processing after? THANK YOU SOO MUCH to whomever is able to provide me with some answers/ input.

    Sincerely,
    Talia
    ** this is my first time ever being fired or having to file for unemployment so i really have nooooo idea what is standard or normal or whatever. I feel like an idiot with my simple questions but it would bring me so much relief having them answered, truly

    1. Talia,

      I can understand your reason for the anxiety. Adjudication is a fact-finding process where both the claimant and the employer will get an opportunity to present their case. During this process, make sure to produce supporting documents that amplify your stance. For all you know, the adjudication can be a lengthy process.

      Best Wishes!

  11. I was permanently severanced from my job due to a Co. Reorg & received my last severance pay last week. I called UE & was told that I should now do my application online since I will no longer be getting funds & still without a job & that this coming Sunday regardless of knowing if I will or will not get benefits yet that I should still file a weekly claim in case of UE back pay.
    So my question is, do I still have to report 4 jobs applied to within this week, even if I do not know if I will be approved/denied for benefits until possibly next week anyway?

    1. Lynda,

      You should continue to report the job applications as long as you’ve been asked to do so. There will be a “Waiting Period” and the first payment will take about 7-10 days after which they’ll flow much quicker. Please call the Claims Center for clarification.

  12. I tried to transfer from one state to another. When I left Montana I was told there would be no problem transferring. When I arrived in North Carolina I had trouble reaching the area manager by phone. When he finally called me back he said to meet him for lunch to discuss when and where I would be working. He did not show up for lunch. Then he never returned any of my calls. I went PA to visit a friend a few weeks later and tried there. I met with the hiring manager and was told there should not be a problem doing the transfer since I was still in the system. I called the store a few times and they said it was still pending. Then I was terminated without even a phone call. Am I eligible for unemployment and if so do I file in Montana or North Carolina. I still have a Montana drivers license but I am living in NC.

    1. Stacey,

      As long as you were unemployed involuntarily, you should be able to claim UI benefits. Please consider applying.

  13. I have worked for 32+ years and recently have become unable to work due to health reasons, so I have had to resign from my job. I have contacted SS and will be able to apply for disability but it will take awhile to process. Can I apply for unemployment benefits? I live in WV.

    1. Sandra,

      UI benefits are only extended to claimants who lose their employment due to involuntary reasons. Please reach out to the Unemployment Office for more.

  14. I had to quit my job at Walmart in Fairmont West Virginia and moved back to my home state ky, I’ve got a son with drug problems and 3 older sisters that are not doing so well in health cause of their age. I didn’t understand about the transfer part they had at Walmart that I could put a date when I could start back because of my car problems I thought when I left I had to go in like in s few days, I’ve applied here at Walmart in Winchester ky 40391 two times already plus dollar store, speedway, truck stop, bp, a few other places it’s been going on 7 months without a job I live with my son and its getting harder on him paying rent and utilities and food, not to mention our personal hygiene stuff I really need help I have no income coming in to help him and his wife out I get foodstamps and Medicaid I was praying I could qualify for unemployment PLEASE HELP!!!

    1. Vicky,

      I can understand your situation. Unfortunately, UI benefits are only extended to claimants who lose employment due to involuntary reasons. Please call the Unemployment Office for further clarification.

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